Heat will spread from the U.S. Midwest to the Northeast in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, sending temperatures into the 90s in Chicago, St. Louis and Washington and boosting electricity demand.
The high in St. Louis is expected to reach 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36 Celsius) this weekend, according to the National Weather Service. The normal high is 80 degrees, according to AccuWeather Inc. Highs may reach 92 in Chicago and Washington.
“It looks like we’re going to have some building heat across the middle of the country,” said Paul Walker, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather in State College, Pennsylvania.
Low natural gas prices, brought about by record production and low demand during the past winter, have led many utilities to use switch to the fuel from coal to produce electricity. Hot weather increases power demand to meet air conditioning needs.
Natural gas for June delivery rose 2.6 cents, or 1 percent, to $2.733 per million British thermal units at 11:33 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The futures have rebounded 44 percent from a 10-year intraday low of $1.902 on April 19.
Four of seven peaking power plants operated by Wisconsin Public Service, a unit of Chicago-based Integrys Energy Group Inc., are set to run on natural gas, according to the company’s website. The plants are used during hot weather, when electricity demand is highest, according to the company.
Walker said 90-degree temperatures will spread across the Midwest and into the interior Northeast through the weekend.
New York City may have temperatures in the high 80s this weekend; cooler breezes off the Atlantic Ocean will keep highs from reaching the 90s there, he said.
“It is still pretty warm for this time of year,” Walker said. “The normal high is 74.”
A high of 92 is expected in Baltimore and Richmond, Virginia this weekend, 89 in Philadelphia; 88 in Cleveland and Pittsburgh; and 86 in Boston, according to the weather service.
Following the heat wave, which comes during the U.S. Memorial Day holiday, cooler weather may arrive throughout the eastern part of the country, according to Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.
Rogers said temperatures may still be about 3 degrees above normal from the Midwest through the Northeast and into southern Canada June 2 to June 6 because cooler weather may not last.
MDA EarthSat Weather calls for seasonal weather across the Midwest and Northeast in its corresponding forecast.
“While not a truly cool pattern it does not appear to be extremely warm either, with plenty of variability expected within this time frame,” MDA said in a note to clients today.